I like to think of it as letting the ‘why’ in your life be a guiding force. It can be a powerful reminder to keep us going when we find ourselves losing motivation. It is something for all of us to think about, not only adults but children too.Read More
We recently changed our name from Making Mindful Children to Making Mindful Magic, the reason being we became increasingly aware that mindful children need mindful adults in their lives. That’s where and how it starts if we are to encourage and foster a new generation of mindful souls! Many of our posts and blogs challenge adults to think mindfully, to be in the present moment, thoughtfully living each experience as it comes and to be mindful enough to make choices in our lives that reflect our own values. When we are mindful ourselves we become open to paying the gift forward.
Where and how do we start sharing these values and beliefs with the children in our lives? It starts at the very grass-roots level of being the person you want your children to be, to provide experiences that show them what you value and to encourage them to value those things too so they can bring them into their own lives as they grow. If we’re talking about mindfulness as one of the values that we want to share then be the person who values slow, quiet time, who appreciates the need togive purposeful attention to your children and to your own activities and to make choices that reflect your values.
It can start simply with sharing. I know a very connected young father who passionately and regularly shares his beliefs with his children. He told me the simple story of when out bike riding with his three-year-old as his passenger, he shares his passion for being present with her. His story inspired me to write this verse, so moved was I by this unpretentious but effective way of sharing ideals and fostering passion.
This is what we love, the simple ways of sharing the gift of mindfulness with the children in your lives. We like to think our book Making Mindful Magic is a tool you can use to begin and to foster the act of sharing your passion for mindfulness. It's available on our website here in Australia and on Amazon in the UK, here and in the US, here.
How being a mindful parent can help kid’s independence
Yesterday was Mother’s Day in my part of the world and it got me thinking about a variety of mothering issues that we all face. One of them is how much we should do for our kids?
As a mother I would say that I did too much for my children, going in to bat for them when problems arose. Looking back I wonder why? Maybe it was based on protecting them from pain but maybe also it was a better reflection on me if they were successful and didn’t stumble. Ouch!
In the long run experiencing pain and being allowed to live their own lives, mindfully being in their own moment, living the experiences they are meant to live, teaches them resilience and self-reliance which are big factors in building self-confidence.
I was once asked by a friend how to build self-confidence in children. As a former early childhood teacher who had studied child psychology perhaps they thought I had the answers. For my own children I think It would have been more helpful if I was more mindful to paying attention to where they were in their own life journey to independence and to allow them to find their own answers more often and to suffer the consequences of their own choices.
Now I’d answer my friend’s question by saying trusting them to deal with their own lives from as early an age as possible is really important – be the mindful parent and watch for when you can comfortably ‘look on’.
That definitely does not mean we start ignoring our kids – it’s just the opposite! We pay a lot of mindful attention to what they are doing and what stage they are at but then letting them make choices or even ignoring choices but living the consequences themselves rather than us trying to protect them and to dictate what happens in their story!
And that can be really challenging – believe me I know!
The idea of truly living your own truth has been on my mind a lot lately! Many ‘Big Picture’ changes have happened in my life over the last 12 months and I know part of it is because I more than ever before want to live and make choices that are a reflection of who I really am. From my own perspective I know I spent a good part of my life living a version of myself, living a number of roles that in many ways had far more to do with keeping everyone else happy than with fulfilling my own life purpose and interests. As a woman of my generation that is not unusual.
It is an interesting thought to explore in terms of parenting as our children can be very different from us in temperament and interests. As parents, we can find ourselves walking a fine line between encouraging children into expectations of how we want them to be and behaviours that we find appealing or even comforting at the extreme and the other side that is encouraging them to find an environment that is appealing and fulfilling and comfortable for them.
Currently, I’m reading a wonderful book, Women Who Run with the Wolves. In one of the chapters the author, Clarissa Pinkola Estes uses the story of women as seals, who shed their skin and come out from time to time to play, to make her point. During one of these outings of shedding the skin, one of the women has her skin stolen by a man who convinces her to abandon her natural ways and come and live with him as he promises to protect her and look after her if she chooses him. She agrees and for a while, all is well but after a period of time she seeks her original skin and to return to her seal life as she feels withered and lost, losing her energy and vitality. I won’t finish the story for you as it is a book well worth reading and one I hope you will read but the point is if we are not prepared to live our own truth and revel in it then we are really living as a shadow of ourselves and the people we attract into our lives are those who are attracted to our false self, not our real self. The hope of life being ultimately fulfilling seems remote if lived under those conditions.
This, of course, brings up parenting challenges as we walk the line between encouraging the development of the real nature of our children or encouraging the version we find more socially acceptable. I have an unproven theory that if more of us were to be our real selves then more of us would be more contented as we would feel more self-fulfilled. Instead of swimming upstream against the current we could more leisurely go with the flow of our lives offering more opportunities for genuine contentment and fellowship with others who more comfortably fit with us. But if we aren’t brave enough to be our real ourselves or even look for that person and encourage our children to do the same then we and they will most likely continue to be swimming upstream against the natural flow and find it difficult to make connections with themselves and with those who are really part of their tribe. To find ourselves and our tribe we must first be prepared to open up to who we really are.
I recently have made opportunities in my life for a lot of self-reflection with and without guidance and support. The number one issue that keeps arising is my failure, until this point in my life to really feel I was living my own life. I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way, ones I needed to experience from in order to learn but I am now feeling my authentic self rising more and more often and it feels powerful and satisfying and brings me happiness. Opening up to your real self can be a huge challenge, it isn’t always comfortable to be the person who isn’t agreeing with everything for the comfort of others and there are many others with a vested interest in you remaining the person who fits in, who doesn’t challenge the status quo who just does what is expected of her. And the best thing is this opening up to your self is part of a continuum, start with wherever you feel comfortable and take it as slowly or quickly as you like. The speed of your journey of self-discovery is part of acknowledging your real self as well after all.
My now adult children and I often look back on the foods we ate when they were growing up and have a laugh! I thought I was doing the right thing but given the move in our family’s eating habits towards whole foods, it seems virtually inconceivable to us that they were often eating fish fingers and sausages (at least it was always with vegetables) for dinner and muesli bars and chips in their lunch boxes at school!
Whole foods are now very much what we eat. The influence started for us with our interest in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, a practice that dates back thousands of years and embraces so many of the holistic principles of living that have become so important to how many people now aspire to eat and live their lives.
The new interest in the Western world towards eating ayurvedically is a part of the swing to mindful living where we pay careful attention to what we eat, where it comes from and how it is prepared. Just like shopping at the farmer's market where you become conscious of the ingredients going into your food and get to know the growers who produce it, cooking ayurvedically and noticing the effects of different foods on your mind, body and spirit is an important step on the journey to mindful living, just being conscious of everything going on around you and within your body is to be mindful.
With ayurvedic food, everything is made from scratch (though it's not too time consuming I promise!) and different types of foods in the ayurvedic diet have positive or negative effects on the mind, body and spirit depending on your individual constitution or dosha as it is called in ayurveda. So eating ayurvedically encourages to be mindful not only during the cooking process but also during and after eating meals, to be mindful of which foods affect us in different ways so we can work towards our optimal health.
If Ayurveda interests you I can recommend two wonderful books that will open your eyes to another way of looking at both health and living life in general; Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra and Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health by Mark Bunn are both life-changing reads and ones I hope to write about more fully here at Making Mindful Children in time.
Happy reading and eating!